RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The start of school usually can be exciting, but this year simply is unlike any other.
It's not the first time children will attend class during the pandemic, but it does come as hospitals across the country are seeing an uptick in children getting seriously sick from COVID-19.
Despite the availability of effective vaccines against COVID-19, many people continue to choose not to get vaccinated. Plus, children under 12 are not yet eligible to get the shot. That all makes many parents worried about their child's safety against the virus.
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Public health experts say even though young children can't get vaccinated, the best way to protect them still revolves around the vaccine.
"The more people that we get vaccinated around them--in their schools, in their homes--the better protected they will be," Pediatrician Dr. Judith Flores said. "You can't assume that you're going back to the status quo and business as usual in school. It's not that kind of year."
As for school, health experts said it is generally a safe space for children because school leaders have learned how to keep a safe environment. They also suggest parents keep the communication open with their children and the teachers.
"The need for wearing a mask, the sanitizer, the distancing, a lot of children won't understand why their desk can't be with their friends, why they can't say hello to their friends or their teachers. Give them a big hug," Flores said.
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